KODAK Professional Motion Imagining * Documentary

Autumn 1996

Leads the Way for Hispanic Filmmakers

Though Hispanics are gaining more prominent roles in American life, their representation in movies and television hasn’t been keeping up with their growth.  Giving Hispanics a more active rile both in front of and behind the camera is the goal of Cheryl Quintana Leader, President of INDIVISION Productions in Santa Monica, California.  As the producer, director and writer of projects created by her company, she’s been successful at giving other Americans a taste of the Hispanic point of view.

“I see myself as a creative visionary,” she says of her mission.  “For a long time, we’ve been seeing things from one perspective.  America is made up of a diversity of perspectives.  What more powerful way to make people aware of what exists than in film and television?”

Quintana Leader’s talents first came to the forefront in 1991 when she won The Hispanic Film Project, sponsored by Eastman Kodak Company, for her film “Tanto Tiempo” (So Much Time), shot by Cinematographer M. Roman Rosales, which went on to win other national awards including a CIE Golden Eagle at the 1993 CINE Awards.  Tanto Tiempo,” starring Carrie Barton, Seidy Lopez (“Mi Vida Loca”) and Mandy Avila, was inducted into the film archives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of their Xicano Retrospective Exhibit.

That wasn’t the last that people saw of “Tanto Tiempo.”  Packaged with George Figueroa’s film, “Always Roses,” the movies became an hour-long television program titled, “The Hispanic Heritage Film Project: An American Experience,” which ran nationwide in 44 television markets during National Hispanic Heritage Month, September/October 1995.  Sponsored by Eastman Kodak Company and AT&T, actor Edward James Olmos and Mandy Avila hosted the program, a first-time premiere about the Hispanic-American experience by exclusively Hispanic filmmakers.

Quintana Leader believes the story behind the film is a good illustration of how she attempts to educate other Americans about the Hispanic-American experience.  Tanto Tiempo” is the story of a young Hispanic-American girl who, while searching for her Mexican heritage, manages to bring both her mother and her heritage back into her life.  The story focuses on an Aztec myth, the Goddess of the Fourth Sun, and uses flashbacks to travel into her past.  “I made it, not only to explore my experience growing up American, but also to enlighten others and myself about the richness of my Hispanic culture and the Aztec people,” she explains.  Tanto Tiempo” may not have ended it on-screen life.  Quintana Leader says ABC is considering picking it up for a possible Saturday Afternoon Specials to air in October 1996.

Quintana Leader founded INDIVISION in 1993 as a vehicle to help get her ideas and visions into the mainstream.  In addition to producing health and educational programming in English and Spanish, the company is also involved in raising $6 million for two film projects, one of which Quintana Leader will direct in the upcoming year.  INDIVISION is also in negotiation with a major television network on a possible mini-series dealing with the experiences of Hispanic women and their multigenerational saga.  One of her productions, “L.A. City Kidz,” a motivational program promoting peace and conflict resolution in Los Angeles won a 1996 CINE Golden Eagle.

Although she works in different mediums, Quintana Leader prefers film.  “What more powerful tool can one access than film itself to show the intensity of the colors we’re trying to education everyone in,” she declares.  “You want the paint you put on a canvas to be as vivid as possible.  Film allows that.”

In all her productions, Quintana Leader tries to hire a diverse crew.  “I make an attempt to find Latinas and definitely look for multicultural talent,” she says.  “When I was making “Tanto Tiempo,” people asked me why I was hiring people who had never done this before.  Like myself, I felt they were passionate about what they want to be and do, and it was with this passion they were all able to share in the creation of a very wonderful film that has won many accolades as a result of our collaborative efforts.”